That’s what Terrelle Pryor was concerned about when I first met him in January 2008 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, an annual national All-Star game for high school seniors held in San Antonio.
Undecided about his college choice at the time, the dual-threat quarterback candidly discussed a female fan calling and asking him for a photograph, telling her, “Send me a really good one and I’ll send you a really good one.”
Pryor bemoaned not being able to receive any of the sometimes hundreds of dollars that eBay sellers made off his autograph and game-worn items.
He also boasted about the influence he had over coaches recruiting him, like then-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who had promised him the Buckeyes would implement a spread offense to fit the abilities of the anointed next Vince Young.
Pryor’s focus consistently led back to one thing: himself.
And while some may foolishly believe Pryor’s statement Tuesday that his decision to forgo his senior year at scandal-ridden Ohio State was out of “the best interests of my teammates,” the truth is he did it out of selfishness. He did it only to escape being investigated by the NCAA and to try to salvage what’s left of his bleak future.
Sadly, just like Ohio State made sure Pryor could play in January’s Sugar Bowl and not serve his five-game suspension for him swapping memorabilia with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner, it once again did him a favor by allowing him to depart on his own terms.
Apparently, university president Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith are still in denial their football program is burning out of control. If they had any courage, they would have dismissed Pryor.
But they let him exit on his own terms, just like they did last week with Tressel, whom they should have fired as soon as he admitted in March he had lied about his knowledge of Pryor and other players’ memorabilia swapping.
Ohio State continues to embarrass itself by not taking pre-emptive action that would make it clear that integrity is the university’s top priority. Its leadership has become the punch line of college athletics and is only fostering the sentiment that the NCAA should show no mercy when it comes to penalizing the Buckeyes.
Whatever happens, don’t feel sorry for Pryor. He’s not a victim; he’s the perpetrator.
Remember, he put himself in this situation by not following NCAA rules. He’s the one who lied publicly on his Twitter account that he “paid for my tattoos” the day before his five-game suspension was announced.
It’s he who attracted NCAA scrutiny after driving several different cars. He’s the one who also is alleged to have received $20,000 to $40,000 for autographing memorabilia in 2009-10, as well as free food, drinks and tattoos, according to an ESPN.com report released late Tuesday night.
Pryor has no excuses regardless of his defenders’ claims that NCAA rules are unfair and take advantage of athletes. It’s the same propaganda they’ll use again in the future for (insert name of latest allegedly wronged NCAA athlete here) instead of actually holding that person accountable for his or her actions.
And because Ohio State failed to monitor Pryor — yes, those NCAA doomsday words — and apparently let him abide by his own rules, he’s never been accountable. He wasn’t again Tuesday when he cowardly had his attorney provide his statement that he was leaving the Buckeyes.
Of course, Pryor’s always been far more elusive about the truth than he’s ever been on the field. So don’t expect him to stop running anytime soon.
He’s got plenty of sex, money and power to chase elsewhere.